Truth in Headshots

by | Aug 27, 2014 | Branding, Social/Professional Networking | 2 comments

headshotEmbarrassingly, in February of this year, while speaking at Bill DeWees’ VO Revolution workshop — I came in after a previous speaker, and told the attendees the exact opposite of what they had just heard about headshots.

I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating…and I don’t expect everyone will agree with me, but hear me out, and then decide for yourself.

The argument against a voiceactor utilizing a HeadShot (recent photo portrait)

No, all the jokes about “I have a face for radio” don’t apply here. EVERYONE has a good side, and can look appealing in pics taken by a professional photographer.

The only salient argument I’ve ever heard why a voice-actor should not use a relevant picture of herself/himself is if their character or their voice does not match their age or their countenance.  Many voice-actors do character voices that represents something totally aside from the real person.  This ruins the illusion of their talent, and can be a disconnect for the client. 

I get it.  That’s a pretty good argument…and I’m guessing the other 95% of you who do not fall in this category, cannot use that argument.

The arguments in favor of a voiceactor utilizing a HeadShot

 Everyone is naturally interested, almost compelled to search and see what you look like.  Think about how big pictures are in every online platform.  They all ask for a picture, an avatar, a logo — SOMETHING — to represent you.  It’s a natural human curiosity.  Why not get ahead of that curiosity,, and provide them the visage you prefer be seen by everybody?…instead of an impromptu shot of you from an unexpected angle at a party?

Pay the bucks for a professional photographer to set-up a series of shots of your face in different light, and in maybe 2 or 3 3495-a-smaller-croppeddifferent changes of clothes and poses, and choose the best ones…even have the photog digitize out the blemishes if you want.  Just do it.

Another pet peeve of mine:  don’t use a 10-yr-old picture of you when you were younger / prettier / slimmer / more handsome / not grey / hipper.  Imagine the surprise of people who inevitably meet you in person at Faffcon and barely recognize you!  Get new headshots done every 2-3 years.

The final, best argument for voice actors using a current headshot:  it’s genuine, it’s authentic, it’s you.  There’s no hiding it, and trying to do that is misleading in the extreme.  Think about it.  You are selling YOU as the partner in your client’s business.  Don’t give them one reason to think you’re keeping something from them.

Oh, and use that same shot consistently everywhere.  This is not such a hard ‘n’ fast rule, but I think it really works to build the brand called “you”… at least when first working to establish yourself.

Only acceptable alternative:

OK, you’re just still so embarrassed by showing your face, or you’re a character voice actor, or you get a rash when you even think about utilizing a headshot.  In this case, use your logo, and make sure you have a good one.  This will now take the place of you, your personal brand, your personality, and your character.

 CourVO

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2 Comments

  1. Jack R Smith

    Dave,

    I see your side on the “need” for having a head shot, but I just don’t see the point. As soon as you send anyone your picture, a judgement is made. It is just human nature. I want to be know for my voice first not my face. I am 63 years old and if someone sees my mug they will have a first impression that may not be positive and may assume that all I do it senior living ad. I can do a young adult to senior voice and list it as such in all my profiles. I do have a picture but it is a profile pic of my in my studio. Besides if I have a professional take pics of me and then photo shop them, it’s not me anyway. The focus should be on your voice, THAT is what makes the bucks.
    I am a big fan of yours and respect your opinion. BTW, I have really enjoyed your book.

    Jack

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Jack,

      I hear ya. You’re only a year ahead of me, and your sepia-muted-toned shot of you at the mic is perfect!

      Your story is exactly why I always state the exception to my stance… besides, I think people are fascinated to see grown men and women with kids’ voices (Lisa Biggs perfect example).

      Your comments were very kind, and I’m glad you’re finding some useful info in the book!

      Best to you and yours!

      Dave Courvoisier

      Reply

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